Nelson Cruz is likely to be out at least a few days recovering from a bone bruise in his right foot.
And that’s about as good of news the Seattle Mariners could have hoped for considering the circumstance.
“We actually got lucky,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Wednesday.
Not only had the Mariners learned earlier in Tuesday that they would be without No. 3 hitter Robinson Cano for effectively the rest of the season with MLB slamming an 80-game drug suspension on him, but then Cruz was hit by a pitch for the second time in the later game against the Texas Rangers.
Actually, it was the third time Cruz had been hit in the past two games.
But the third one struck off the top of his right foot – a slider from 33-year-old Tacoma native and now-Rangers left-hander Brandon Mann.
Cruz walked to first base, clenching his teeth in obvious pain, before Servais and trainer Rob Nodine had to help him limp off of the field.
Cruz was in a walking boot afterward.
The Mariners called it a right foot contusion and he had an X-ray on it that came back negative. He was to be re-examined Wednesday.
“Nellie is a big dude, and when he starts putting all of his weight on you, I’m like, ‘This is not going to end well,’” Servais said. “Fortunately for us nothing is broken, but he’s going to be out a couple of days.”
They did not place him on the disabled list, though, leaving the Mariners with Andrew Romine and Guillermo Heredia as their only backup position players on Wednesday, with catcher Mike Zunino starting at designated hitter and David Freitas at catcher.
Cruz already missed almost two weeks near the beginning of the season after he rolled and sprained his right ankle slipping on a dugout step after he hit a two-run home run. The Mariners have since added a sticky surface to the step.
“We all know Nelson – he has the highest pain threshold of anybody I’ve ever been around,” Servais said. “So we’ll see how it is later today and going forward. He’ll get some treatment and hopefully that will calm it down.”
And, incredibly, that was the second Mariners batter Mann had hit and forced to miss time this season.
The Mount Rainier High School graduate, who turned 34 on Wednesday and hadn't pitched in the big leagues until Sunday with the Rangers, threw a pitch during a minor league game in spring training that hit Ichiro Suzuki in the helmet.
Mann grew up rooting for the Mariners and still lives in Tacoma. He was able to meet Ichiro in the parking lot afterward and he apologized to his once-childhood idol.
The pitch certainly didn’t appear to be on purpose. It was a slider that got away from him in the bottom of the fourth inning after Mann had replaced Rangers starter Mike Minor.
Cano’s finger fractured on Sunday when Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate and current Detroit Tigers starter Blaine Hardy struck him with an 88-mph fastball.
All these hit batters is a concerning trend for Servais. The Mariners have been hit by pitches 26 times in 41 games. Only the Chicago Cubs (28) have been struck more times.
“It’s hard to say someone is throwing at you. I don’t think they were throwing at Nelson Cruz last night,” Servais said. “I don’t think we’ve been in a situation like that. But it does get frustrating and you kind of get tired of it – because the ball that gets away in Detroit that hits Cano and Cruzy certainly gets hit a lot.
“They want to keep him honest inside because they know how much power he’s got, but it does come to a point where enough is enough. We have got hit a lot and I don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it than it is, but it’s certainly something we need to be aware of.”
Mariners DFA Goeddel
Christian Bergman had to be added to the Mariners roster to start Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers. They can thank the Detroit rain on Friday that rained-out their game for that.
But that meant they had to remove someone to make room, meaning they designed right-hander Erik Goeddel for assignment.
“We need a spot starter and we had to shuffle around our pitching staff,” Servais said. “And he was the odd guy out.”
That was despite earning his second win with two scoreless innings of relief in Tuesday night’s extra innings win over the Rangers.
But Goeddel threw 46 pitches and he was going to be down for a few days, anyway. They couldn’t option him back to Triple-A Tacoma because he was out of minor-league options.
So for the Mariners to get him back to Triple-A, Goeddel will have to clear waivers.
“He’s done a really good job for us since coming up,” Servais said. “I like how he does it with the high fastball and the split – it’s a little bit different from anybody else we have in our bullpen. But this was just kind of need as much as anything.”
Bergman was making his Mariners debut Wednesday. He was 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA in eight starts with the Rainiers so far this season.
The Mariners begin a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. The 7:10 p.m. game will be televised by Root Sports and broadcast by 710-AM.
Scheduled starters: Marco Gonzales (3-3, 5.31 ERA) for the Mariners and Matthew Boyd (2-3, 3.21)) for the Tigers.
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